Mahindra NuvoSport Review Test Drive
2016 Mahindra NuvoSport – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Mahindra NuvoSport Review

Car Tested: Mahindra NuvoSport; Road Test No. 684

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8.50 – Rs. 11.29 lakhs

The Mahindra NuvoSport seems like a half-hearted attempt to clear stock of the Quanto

Mahindra has been on an onslaught and from being a seller of big vehicles, the company has attacked the sub 4-metre space with full ammo. The TUV300 wasn’t launched much long ago and soon Mahindra followed up with the launch of the KUV100, it’s second monocoque vehicle (after the XUV500). Now the Indian automaker has launched the NuvoSport which is nothing but the Quanto facelift but it does get significant changes to deserve the new name. However, with the TUV300 on sale, the Mahindra NuvoSport feels like a futile exercise, or does it?

Motor Quest: The Mahindra Quanto was launched in 2012 but failed to sell in good numbers after the initial hype subsided. Based largely on the Xylo, the Quanto can be called as a chopped off version. Mahindra has renamed the car as NuvoSport and given it significant updates in 2016.

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The front of the NuvoSport is the only attractive part on this vehicle

Exteriors – In terms of styling, the Mahindra NuvoSport carries the same silhouette of the Quanto and similar details as well but with a heavily revised front profile. It gets a flatter bonnet to give that upright SUV shape along with a new hood scoop which is functional and not just for show. There are dual headlamps with LED DRLs with sharp edges that merge well with the new grille. The bottom half of the bumper gets blacked out having a wide airdam, skid plate and integrated foglams.

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The rear of the NuvoSport still reminds one of the Quanto

The Mahindra NuvoSport doesn’t look attractive from the rear or side profile

The side profile remains the same save for the new alloy wheels and plastic cladding. Changes at the rear are negligible having new details in the tail lamps and a roof mounted spoiler, the blackened treatment reducing the visual bulk to a small extent. While there are substantial changes at the front, the side and rear continue to get boxy styling, making the Mahindra NuvoSport look quite dated inspite of carrying an all new name.

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The dashboard feels dated and is similar to the Quanto

Interiors – Get inside the cabin and you would immediately notice the same old dashboard of the Quanto but with revised embellishments trying to make it look new. Mahindra has shared the AC switchgear and steering wheel from the TUV300 that has controls for the infotainment as well as cruise control system. While the instrument cluster is clean and easy to read, the MID system is positioned above the AC vents, which is quite an inconvenient place for the driver to read. The NuvoSport comes with a Kenwood touchscreen audio system which looks very aftermarket and has a cumbersome user interface and doesn’t come with a navigation system.

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The NuvoSport does have a spacious cabin with plenty of room

The quality, design and overall feel of the NuvoSport’s interior is a big letdown

Other than the aforementioned changes, the NuvoSport retains the feel of the Quanto. The front seats have a good view of the road ahead and visibility all around is good too. The rear seats have fantastic legroom, headroom and shoulder room. You can seat three people at the back with ease. However, the second row of seats’ recline angle is too upright and the under thigh support is not the best either, which might get troublesome on long journeys.

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The last row of seats are namesake and not much of practical use

There are jump seats in the third row which are not practical for adults and there are no seatbelts so they are best not used. Quality inside the cabin is just average, there are inconsistent plastics used and you can see exposed wires, which is not what you expect from a compact SUV of this price and segment. There is 412-litres of boot space which is expandable to 850 litres if you fold down the second row. While Mahindra calls the interior as ‘premium’, the NuvoSport’s dated dashboard and sub-par quality makes it look like a car from a few years back.

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The 1.5-litre motor gets vast improvements to the refinement

Performance – Powering the NuvoSport is the same 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder engine which did duty on the Quanto but Mahindra has made some tweaks as the motor now gets a dual-mass flywheel, like the TUV300 for better NVH levels. There is some sort of vibrations which creep into the cabin but overall NVH levels are pretty good, specially when compared to the Quanto. There is good amount of low-end punch, the NuvoSport feeling apt in the city but out on the highway, it lacks grunt and doesn’t pull quickly so you really have to plan your overtakes.

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Not really quick, the NuvoSport only has ample grunt for the city

The NuvoSport takes 20.6 seconds to reach the ton, which is way too long

The bigger problem is the AMT gearbox, while it does offer the convenience of an automatic gearbox, the other issues are very apparent such as the creep function which really doesn’t work and the hill start which can be a big issue because the car doesn’t hold long enough for you to react. So you really have to be careful when doing a hill start. When driving the NuvoSport spiritedly, you realise that this gearbox takes a lot of time in shifting gears which can get a bit frustrating. Redline comes in at around 4500 RPM and there is no power after 4000 RPM.

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The AMT gearbox doesn’t work well enough on the NuvoSport

The 5-speed AMT gearbox is very smooth to operate in terms of selecting gears, there is also a manual mode on offer but the manual mode is really of not much use. You rather put it in automatic completely and let the car do the shifts. It is best to drive this vehicle in a manner wherein gearshifts will happen around the mid-range so that you get a good amount of progress but because of the heavy weight of the NuvoSport, you do feel that it’s a bit underpowered. The NuvoSport gets an eco mode which results in the power being restricted to 72 BHP and the torque to 180 Nm. And in that mode, ARAI has certified a mileage of 17.45 km/l which is far from being the best in the segment.

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Low speed ride is good but vertical movement is a lot at speed

Driving Dynamics – The big change on the NuvoSport, is the fact that Mahindra has given it an all new chassis. The third generation ladder frame platform comes from the Scorpio and TUV300, resulting in much better driving dynamics but there is still a lot of body roll on offer and one needs to curtail speed on this compact SUV. The steering is very inconsistent and there is no feel on offer, this surely isn’t a car you would like to drive spiritedly. Making matters worse is the tall height which induces the fear of toppling over on hard cornering.

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Handling is better than the Quanto but body roll is still pronounced

The third-gen ladder frame is better but the NuvoSport is just too tall & heavy

The Mahindra NuvoSport has a suspension which is on the softer side. So when you are driving the car slowly over bumps, you realise that this car absorbs most of it without any fuss at all. But up the pace and there is a lot of vertical movement which can make passengers very uncomfortable. While braking performance is decent, there is a lot of nose dive under heavy braking due to the front-heavy nature of this traditional SUV.

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Mahindra is offering airbags on all trims of the NuvoSport

Safety and After Sales Service – The Mahindra NuvoSport offers dual front airbags with ABS as standard across all the variants except the basic N4 trim but safety features come optional with this trim. It comes with an OE warranty of 1,00,000 kms or 3 years. Mahindra has a good reach across the country with a strong network. Maintenance cost is relatively low but you never know with a Mahindra car how frequent visits would you make to the service centre with the unpredictable electronics of their UVs.

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The NuvoSport just doesn’t make any sense in front of the TUV300

Verdict – Mahindra has done a good job in giving the Quanto a new lease of life in the form of the NuvoSport as this vehicle gets quite a lot of significant changes because the engine has been updated and it gets an all new chassis. But when you look at the big picture, you realise there are a lot of shortcomings and mostly it is the interior which feels very dated. Now when you compare the NuvoSport with the TUV300, you realise that is a better vehicle at a lower price, making this new Mahindra look a bit pointless.

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Mahindra is creating confusion with the launch of the NuvoSport

What’s Cool

* Attractive looking front-end, makes one forget the Quanto
* Spacious cabin has loads of space in the second row
* Improved engine refinement, the motor doesn’t feel coarse
* New generation body-on-frame platform results in improved dynamics

What’s Not So Cool

* Engine lacks highway punch and thus overtaking needs to be planned
* Side and rear profile remain largely the same as the unattractive Quanto
* Interior quality is below average, dashboard design is very dated
* Mediocre dynamics restricts usage to low speeds
* Priced more than TUV300 for no good reason

Alternatives: Maruti Vitara Brezza, Ford EcoSport, Mahindra TUV300

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The interior is one of the biggest drawbacks of this compact SUV

Mahindra NuvoSport Specifications

* Engine: 1493cc, 3-cylinder, 2-stage turbo, mHawk100
* Power: 100 BHP @ 3750 RPM
* Torque: 240 Nm @ 1600-2800 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual/AMT
* 0-100 km/hr: 20.6 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 13-15 km/l
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Double Wishbone (Front), Coil Springs (Rear)
* Tyres: 215/65/16
* Brakes: Ventilated discs (front), drum (rear), ABS
* Safety: Dual Airbags, ABS, EBD

Mahindra NuvoSport Dimensions

* Overall Length x Width x Height: 3985 mm X 1850 mm X 1870 mm
* Wheelbase: 2760 mm
* Ground Clearance: 210 mm (est.)
* Turning Radius: 5.5-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 60-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1800 kgs (est.)
* Boot Capacity: 412-litres, 850-litres (with seats folded)

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If priced less than the TUV300, people could still consider the NuvoSport

Testers’ Note:

“The NuvoSport just makes the TUV300 shine because this Quanto replacement makes no sense at all. Why is Mahindra trying to cannibalise sales or confuse buyers is something I simply can’t understand. There is no need for the NuvoSport, more so because it feels inferior to the TUV300 in many ways and yet it costs more than the Tough Utility Vehicle. The launch of the NuvoSport seems like an inventory clearing exercise to get rid of Quanto’s parts.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“If there was an award for the most pointless car ever launched, it would go to the Mahindra NuvoSport. After having the TUV300 in the lineup, the NuvoSport just doesn’t make any sense. The interiors are way too old looking and the drive is nothing to talk about. The rear seat isn’t quite comfortable due to the upright backrest. The engine has grunt but the AMT gearbox is slow to respond to inputs making overtaking a pain if not planned well.” – Aman Sancheti, Road Tester, MotorBeam.

Further Reading

Mahindra NuvoSport Video Review